Wednesday, July 07, 2010

michael albert once more

Parecon to be quite conservative movement in essence. The reason that Parecon has to go to such lengths to construct such a complicated and complex (and wasteful system, i might add ) of elaborate checks and balances is ultimately that its proponents are unwilling or unable to accept that if given the right economic framework, then, in fact, humans can consciously co-operate, work and consume together. In the final analysis, Parecon lack confidence that either there are sufficient resources on the planet to provide for all, or that human beings can work voluntarily, and co-operate to organise production and distribution of wealth without chaos, and consume wealth responsibly without some form of rationing .

Pareconists remain fixated to the lazy person, greedy individual critique of human behaviour . In denying anarcho-communism Michael Albert simply preaches conventional bourgeois wisdom about peoples "selfishness" and a pessimistic view of human behaviour.

In some exchanges i have engaged in , (more or less repeated in his reply to AA ), Michael Albert has said

"...I think you believe, instead, that there is a capacity for humanity to generate as much nice and fulfilling goods and services as anyone could possibly desire to have, plus as much leisure as anyone could want, and so on. Well, is that really your view? If so, okay, we can agree to disagree. And, honestly, I can't imagine discussing it - further - because for me it is so utterly ridiculous, honestly.... Suppose everyone would like - if the cost was zero - their own large mansion, on the ocean, with wonderful fantastic food every day, with magnificent recording and listening equipment, with a nice big boat, with their own private tennis courts, or basketball, or golf, or whatever....a great home movie system, a wonderful violin, magnificent clothes, and so on and so forth, and, also, while they like creative work a lot, they would like a whole lot of time to enjoy their bountiful home and holdings - so they want to work only twenty hours a week and of course not do anything other than what interests them. What you seem to be saying is that you think that is possible... or, even if all that were possible, no one would want it. Both are false..."

"...if something is of no cost, and I want it, sure, I will take it, to enjoy it, why not..."

"...Tell everyone that they can have a free house, a really nice car, or two, whatever equipment the like for sports or hobbies, whatever TVs they would enjoy and other tools of daily life, whatever food they want nightly, etc. etc. because it is all free, no problem for them to take what they want. And see what one will be able to conduct themselves responsibly..."

"... since they can have product, from the available social product, regardless. So sloth is rewarded. Likewise greed..."

For free access Socialists and Anarcho-Communists we will continue to struggle to create a structured society where people have accepted socially mutual obligations and the realisation of universal interdependency and we understand that decisions arising from this would profoundly affect people’s choices, perceptions, conceptualizations, attitudes, and greatly influence their behavior, economically or otherwise. Humans behave differently depending upon the conditions that they live in. Human behaviour reflects society.

The scare-mongering about the co-ordinator class simply just not arise since society members free access to goods and services denies to any group or individuals the political leverage with which to dominate others which has been a feature of all private-property or class based systems through through the control of and restrictions to the means of life. This will ensure that a socialist society is run on the basis of democratic consensus.

In an anarchist world the notion of status based upon the conspicuous consumption of wealth would be devoid of meaning because individuals would stand in equal relation to the means of production and have free access to goods and services. Again Parecon ( since of its support and the continued existence of a wages system and remuneration differentials ) cannot do away with a status hierarchy in which social esteem is closely related to an individual’s “pecuniary strength”, those at the top of this hierarchy exercising their pecuniary strength which provides the key signifier of social esteem in this hierarchy. Hence there remains emphasis on extravagant luxury which only the rich can really afford and those lower down this hierarchy imitating those higher up. We can readily guess that with luxury items rationed only to those that "deserve" by their work contribution settled by bjc committees , the less fortunate and more envious will endeavour to appropriate these luxuries by theft which will require Parecon police, Parecon lawyers and judges and ultimately Parecon jails and warders .

To have a system that allows wages to be dispensed on the basis of work carried out, allows money to circulate, and restricts access to wealth ( food or housing) unless you have sufficient money to purchase something, doesn't seem to be too far from capitalism in terms of its outward appearance. retains major elements of the market system. More importantly is simply highly unlikely to be workable in the real world. Parecon appears to me to be about building a massive (and socially unproductive) administration for policing all the wage levels, labour outputs, prices etc. Anarchism/world socialism is not about creating ever greater bureaucratic structures, but quite the opposite - it will be about removing the barriers capitalism has developed which prohibit access to wealth, and at a stroke create an economic environment without individual (ie monetary or, in Pareconese, consumer credit accumulation)incentives.

Parecon is attractive to those who dislike capitalism but it must be terribly deflating for a person to have devoted so much time and energy in creating an elaborate, complex, convoluted construct to offer an alternative to capitalism and then to have others declare that it was totally unnecessary and that the answers and solutions already existed and stood on firmer foundations. This is the case with Michael Albert .


Anonymous said...

How does wanting to institutionalise good behaviors in order that the best of human nature might be able to break out make someone support Establishment myths about selfish / individualistic people?

How does ignoring the need to institutionalise and spread in the culture new cooperative norms make one an effective revolutionary?

ajohnstone said...

And this is done by continuing artifical rationing and restricting access and offering privileged groups extra remuneration? from each according to ability , to each according to work? isn't that repeating the capitalist mantra of the capitalist work ethic